Your Daily Phil: Heard at Aspen Ideas + The short-lived return of the Rothschild tents

Good Wednesday morning!

It’s summer, which means that a broad spectrum of prominent voices on anything from politics to economics to healthcare to philanthropy has gathered in Colorado for the Aspen Ideas Festival. The festival, which is fully in person at the eponymous ski resort town for the first time since before the pandemic, began on Saturday and runs for the whole week.

The themes of the festival this year are heat, power, connection, trust, money and beauty, and programming is interspersed with offerings such as hikes through the mountains or bird-watching. A range of A-list names will be discussing those topics — from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (virtually), former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) to former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and former Disney CEO Michael Eisner.

Prominent Jewish names in attendance, in addition to Eisner and Bennet, include Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, Atlanticeditor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg, Politico executive editor Dafna Linzer and Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. But while Goldberg will be speaking, the Atlantic is no longer a sponsor of the festival, as it had been in previous years. Instead, the media sponsor is NBCU News Group.

The festival’s panelists discuss topics ranging from climate change to COVID-19 to the future of democracy, but one of its emphases is the way money operates in the present day. Just at the beginning of the week alone, there have been sessions on trust in private business, the reliability (or lack thereof) of cryptocurrency and the role of business in protecting democracy.

At a panel on Monday called “Philanthropy’s Role in Systems Change,” three leaders of philanthropic foundations discussed how philanthropy can shape the world and how it must respond to inequalities. Jen Ford Reedy, president of the Minnesota-based Bush Foundation, pointed out that the recent Supreme Court decision on abortion is an indirect product of a philanthropic grant given decades ago to launch the conservative Federalist Society.

“Foundations are changing the world and changing our lives around us, and we don’t always see it,” she said. “In a week like we just had where we had really really big national developments, Supreme Court decisions, it’s an opportunity to actually see what difference does philanthropy make and how are foundations affecting our direction as a country.”

Rodney Foxworth, the CEO of Common Future, which aims to make the economy more inclusive, said that part of changing systems involves empowering marginalized people to make funding decisions. “These are individuals that are most proximate, that have the most impact, that have developed expertise because of their lived experiences. So how do we actually make sure that they have power, how do we give up power, how do we share power?”

The third panelist, Walton Family Foundation Executive Director Caryl Stern, said philanthropy’s greatest strength is its ability to bring people together, which she said exhibited itself in the way foundations responded to COVID-19. “The power that we bring to the table that is exceptional for the foundation world is that we can be the conveners,” she said, “There’s an opportunity to bring like-minded organizations together very easily, but there’s also the opportunity to bring unlike together. We have to stop thinking of work exclusively within our sector.”

Read the full story here.


As cost of living rises, Israel’s latest tent protests fizzle out amid political chaos

Activists sit amid tents on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv on June 21, 2022.

Melanie Lidman

A visit last week to the tents that lined Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard felt just like a miniature version of the massive demonstrations that swept the country in 2011, even though the tents themselves stayed on Rothschild for just a week. The set of young activists was different, but after 11 years, the same frustration over Israel’s high cost of living remained, reports Melanie Lidman for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Still stressful: In 2011, Rothschild became a temporary urban encampment with rules and norms, puppet shows, nightly lectures and even a dating service. The seven-week protest saw thousands of tents occupied at dozens of sites around the country, filled with people angry at the stressful economic situation. Eleven years later, economic indicators show that in some ways, things have only gotten worse: inflation is at 4% and housing prices have increased by 16% in the past year. Even fresh vegetables, a staple of the Israeli diet and identity, are up by 5.5%.

Political problems: But while the tent protests in 2011 made demands of a relatively stable government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this year’s protests have to contend with a perpetually chaotic political system. Days after the first tents went up, Israel’s government announced that it would dissolve after one year, leading to the fifth round of elections since 2019. So if the protests continue, it’s unclear who exactly they will be protesting against. And while tents have come down due to lack of a permit, more than 20,000 people have expressed interest on Facebook for a protest planned for July 2 in Tel Aviv against the high cost of housing.

On the sidelines: At least one major organization that was active in the 2011 protests, the Histadrut, Israel’s national trade union, is waiting to see what will happen with the political uncertainty. “We’re going to take our time and work smartly to make sure we can make a difference,” Histadrut spokesman Yaniv Levy told eJP. “It’s hard now because a lot of the things we work on are all about budgets, and when there’s no government, there’s no budget, and it’s hard to take care of these things.”

Read the full story here.


The repeal of Roe v. Wade is an attack on my Jewish freedom

Liu Guanguan/China News Service via Getty Images

“Last week’s Supreme Court decision clearly exemplifies how religious liberty only applies to one group in the United States: the religious right,” writes Rabbi Hara Person, chief executive of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Separation of church and state: “We are not a theocracy, yet policies that are baked into conservative Christianity dominate conversations about our personal rights, from prayer in schools to nativity scenes in front of government buildings to reproductive rights. Time after time, we see that the separation of church and state does not apply when it is their church and their state.”

Monopolized discourse: “With the decision in Dobbs and the effective overturning of Roe v. Wade, the religious right is – once again – imposing their supposed moral authority over all other religions. With their megaphone, the religious right has monopolized the religious discourse, convincing Americans that ‘religion’ is synonomous with ‘conservative’ and that ‘religious values’ equates with ‘anti-abortion.’”

Jewish values: “Not only is this fundamentally false, but it is an egregious attack on my religious liberty as a Jew. Access to abortion is a Jewish value. Comprehensive medical care (as exemplified by kavod habriyot, human dignity) is a Jewish value. The prioritization of the life and well-being of the living person over the rights of a fetus is a Jewish value. Where is our protection?”

Read the full piece here.


The challenges of Peoplehood 4.0


“The American Jewish community needs to go back to the basics. Rather than build Peoplehood on the connection to Israel, it should begin with Peoplehood as the foundation for the Jewish local communal enterprise (it did work for 1,800 years). The challenge is to develop our collective consciousness as a Jewish sensibility,” writes Shlomi Ravid, founding director of the Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Collective consciousness: “This process should be complemented by the development of a Jewish American collective consciousness. American Jews need to be conscious of being part of a collective committed to building a communal enterprise expressing the current and future phases of Jewish civilization.”

Sharing purpose: “As to the Israeli Jewish community, the conversation about Jewish collective ethos and values seem to be missing in action. While empathy, solidarity and a sense of responsibility are essential to the relationship, its chances of growing without discussing and sharing purpose, ethos and values, are rather small.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Putting Names to Faces: A new technology is identifying previously unknown people in Holocaust-era photographs, Jackie Hajdenberg reports in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “Rockstar Geddy Lee [of the band Rush] found never-before-seen photos of his mother’s family thanks to a new effort to apply artificial intelligence facial recognition technology to photographs from the Holocaust. Lee’s mother, Holocaust survivor Mary Weinrib, died last summer at 95 years old. But the researchers of the AI technology, From Numbers to Names, managed to find a photo of Weinrib from her time at the displaced persons camp in Bergen-Belsen — a photo that then led Lee to find other photos of his mother’s extended family from the Yad Vashem photo collection…Created by Daniel Patt, a Google engineer and the descendent of four Holocaust survivors, From Numbers to Names allows users to upload a photo and then suggests ten other photos with faces that could be a match.” [JTA]

Philanthropy for Families: 
As the abortion debate rages, philanthropy “should focus its attention on the local groups that are quietly getting the job done,” Megan Rose, CEO of Christian nonprofit Better Together, writes in an opinion piece for The Chronicle of Philanthropy: “Rather than continuing to pour dollars into advocacy efforts that don’t touch the lives of most people, philanthropy should increase support for charity groups tackling the realities families are facing now… In the months and years ahead, philanthropy will be called upon to step up and lend a hand with far more resources. Those we serve, 80 percent of whom are single mothers, do not have time to wait for sweeping reform that may never come or policies that change with the political winds. They are fighting to build a better future for their children in this moment, and we are in their corner rallying volunteers, businesses, and churches to stand with them.” [ChronicleofPhilanthropy]

Community Comms

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Word on the Street

Maccabi Russia will not be participating in the 21st Maccabiah Games taking place in Israel next month. Additionally, Jewish athletes who immigrated to Israel from Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ukraine, the United States and other countries will compete as part of an “Olim” delegation under a special flag.…

The Anti-Defamation League is launching Kulanu: Synagogues in Action Against Antisemitism as part of an effort to support houses of worship in the fight against antisemitism and hate in their broader communities…

Reboot launched its own production company, Reboot Studios, that will provide seed funding for and develop Jewish content across theater, television, film, podcasts, music and publishing…

The Mordecai Kaplan Center for Jewish Peoplehood awarded the Dan Cedarbaum Prize in Jewish Educationseparately to Rabbi Michelle Greenfield and to Rabbi Bec Richman…

Shira Ruderman, executive director of the Ruderman Family Foundation, is joining the board of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, effective July 1. The museum previously faced backlash for omitting Hollywood’s Jewish history in its collection…

Professor Karen Avraham was selected as the next dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University. She is the first woman appointed to the position. Her tenure will begin on Sept. 1…

Professor Eitan Fishbane was promoted to professor of Jewish thought at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He was previously associate professor…

The New York Jewish Week released its list of 36 to Watch. The annual list was formerly known as “36 Under 36,” but this year’s honorees range in age from 23 to 98, “a recognition that innovation and disruption are not bound by something as arbitrary as age…”

New York City’s American Folk Art Museum received a $5 million donation from Arkansas-based arts supporters Becky and Bob Alexander to help fund the museum’s exhibition program and operations as one of the city’s few free museums. In honor of the Alexanders’ donation, they will receive naming rights to the museum CEO’s job title, which will become the Becky and Bob Alexander Director & CEO of the American Folk Art Museum…

The New York City-based Shubert Foundation announced grants and endowments totaling $37.6 million in support of 609 nonprofit arts organizations across the country…

David Weiss Halivni, a Holocaust survivor and pioneering professor of Talmud, has died at 94…

Pic of the Day

Courtesy of Capital Camps

Sixty-six teen participants in Capital Camps’ summer 2022 LIT program departed New York on Tuesday for the Waynesboro, Pa., camp’s inaugural Israel program.


JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Former member of the U.K.’s Parliament for the Labour party, Ruth Smeeth

Baltimore-area gastroenterologist, Dr. Marshall Bedine…. Stand-up comedian and actor, he has appeared in 40 episodes of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Richard Philip Lewis… Chairman of Carnival Corporation and owner of the NBA’s Miami Heat, Micky Arison… Rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Brisk in Jerusalem, Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Soloveitchik… Resident of both D.C. and Arizona, Helene Carol Resnick Kahan… Former assistant surgeon general of the U.S. and deputy assistant secretary of HHS for women’s health, Dr. Susan Jane Blumenthal… Former SVP and counsel at Columbus, Ohio-based L Brands, Bruce A. Soll… CEO of four firms including MajorGiftsNow, Joshua Karlin… Israeli actress, screenwriter, playwright and film director, Hanna Azoulay-Hasfari… Former attorney general of Israel, Avichai Mandelblit… Founder and president of Medallion Financial Corp., Andrew Murstein… Screenwriter, director and producer, he has won nine Emmy Awards for his work on AMC’s “Mad Men” and HBO’s “The Sopranos,” Matthew Hoffman Weiner… Senior rabbi of Toronto’s Beth Tzedec Congregation, Rabbi Steven C. Wernick… Theater, film and television screenwriter, Allan Heinberg… Israeli political consultant and former chief of staff to then Prime Minister Netanyahu, Ari Harow… Consultant, facilitator, trainer and coach, Nanette Rochelle Fridman… Rabbi of the Young Israel of Bal Harbour, Fla., Gidon Moskovitz… Film and television director and writer, Gillian Robespierre… Israeli actor and model Yehuda Levi… President and dean of Phoenix-based Valley Beit Midrash, he is also the founder and president of Uri L’Tzedek, Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz… Partner at FGS Global, Andrew Duberstein… Campaign finance consultant David Wolf… Steven Kohn… Sara Sansone… Fred Gruber…

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